SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- California counties can't require gun owners to show good cause beyond the need for self-defense to get a concealed weapons permit after a federal appeals court on Wednesday let its previous ruling stand on the issue.
Most of California's 58 counties had the requirement, and some were awaiting the outcome of the appeal to the 9th U.S. Circuit before changing it.
Other counties have been issuing concealed weapons permits under the new rule that requires only a desire for self-defense rather than showing the applicant is in danger.
Police and county sheriffs have the authority in California to issue concealed weapons permits. The applications process has, for the most part, been left to county sheriffs.
A divided three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit ruled in February that law-abiding citizens are entitled to carry concealed weapons outside the home for self-defense purposes. The court ruled after a San Diego man was denied a concealed weapons permit and sued the sheriff over the more stringent policy.
California Attorney General Kamala Harris had asked the court to reconsider its ruling. But the court found Wednesday that Harris waited too long to intervene in the case that began four years ago.
Harris made the request after San Diego Sheriff William Gore said he would not appeal the February ruling.
David Beltran, a spokesman for the attorney general's office, said it was reviewing the 9th Circuit ruling to determine if it should appeal.
The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group, was also barred from intervening in the case. Center director Jonathan Lowy said his organization is also considering its next steps.
The San Diego sheriff has been accepting applications for concealed weapons under the new policy and awaiting more clarity from the court before acting on the requests. San Diego Sheriff's Department spokeswoman Janet Caldwell said the ruling Wednesday was being reviewed.
Legal experts said the initial ruling by the appeals court relied heavily on a 2008 U.S. Supreme Court decision that law-abiding citizens have a fundamental right to keep handguns in the home for self-defense. The U.S. Supreme Court didn't address whether that right extended outside the home. The 9th Circuit panel concluded it did.
"A right to bear arms is no right at all if you need to demonstrate a need to carry that firearm which satisfies the police," said Joyce Malcolm, a law professor at George Mason University law school.